bo rutledge

Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, dean of the University of Georgia School of Law since 2015, announced today that he will return to the faculty at the end of the calendar year. Under his leadership, the law school achieved historic rankings, set fundraising records, expanded access to student financial aid and was consistently recognized as one of the nation’s best returns on investment in legal education.

In 2024, the law school held steady at its highest U.S. News & World Report rankings ever — No. 20 overall and No. 7 among public institutions — for the second year in a row. The school has been rated the No. 1 or No. 2 Best Value Law School by National Jurist for seven straight years, including four years as the No. 1 Best Value.

“It has been an honor to serve the UGA School of Law community as its dean since Jan. 1, 2015,” said Rutledge. “With thanks to the unflagging support of President Morehead, Provost Hu and his predecessors, the UGA Foundation trustees, the University System of Georgia and the state’s elected leadership, we have successfully executed a vision to be the nation’s best return on investment in legal education.”

The law school set several fundraising records during Rutledge’s tenure as dean, with much of the support devoted to student financial aid. The school created 84 new scholarship funds, including the First-Start Scholars and Butler Commitment programs that guarantee financial assistance to all first-generation college graduates and military veterans, respectively. The Distinguished Law Fellows program, created in 2016 thanks to a transformational commitment from the John N. Goddard Foundation, offers more than 25 full-tuition scholarships and professional development stipends to some of the most academically gifted students in the law school.

Student indebtedness at the UGA School of Law has decreased by more than 50% over the past 10 years, and the percentage of Juris Doctor students completing their legal education at UGA free of debt has more than doubled.

The law school’s graduates also achieved impressive employment outcomes during Dean Rutledge’s tenure. The school posted the nation’s highest employment rate for high-value jobs for the Class of 2021. Almost 95% of the Class of 2022 secured full-time, long-term, bar-pass-required jobs within 10 months of graduation. The school currently boasts a near perfect 99.48% Ultimate Bar Passage Rate, and its graduates have posted the highest first-time Georgia bar exam passage rate among the state’s law schools for 10 consecutive years.

“Bo Rutledge’s tenure as dean has been extraordinary, and I am grateful for his commitment to the School of Law and the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “He has strengthened the school’s long-standing record of excellence and led it to even greater heights. I have appreciated his friendship and wise counsel as well as his dedication to our students.”

Rutledge championed several curricular initiatives as dean, including an undergraduate law minor, a combined bachelor’s and Juris Doctor program, and three-year degree programs that combine a Juris Doctor with an MBA or Master of Accountancy degree. The school also created a nationally recognized mentorship program that matches each incoming student with an alumnus/alumna, faculty member, career advisor and fellow student.

During his tenure, the law school expanded its outreach programs, creating the externally funded Veterans Legal Clinic, First Amendment Clinic, Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic, and Practicum in Animal Welfare Skills. It also secured additional external funding for the existing Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic and Community Health Law Partnership Clinic.

Consistent with this track record of strong philanthropic and foundation support, the law school also created several new endowed professorships during Rutledge’s tenure.

“The UGA School of Law is now on course to redefine what it means to be a great national public institution,” said Rutledge. “Alongside the university’s leadership, many deserve credit for this record: a generous alumni/alumnae base, a brilliant faculty, a hardworking staff and inspiring students. Above all else, my wife of more than 24 years, Birgit, and our four children — Anna, Marie, Nina and Franki — deserve loving gratitude and boundless credit for their support during sleepless nights, long hours, heartbreaking emergencies and a pandemic’s challenges.”

An expert in international dispute resolution, Rutledge joined the UGA faculty in 2008 and holds the Talmage Chair of Law. Prior to his appointment as dean, Rutledge served as the associate dean for faculty development. In this role, he worked closely with the law school’s faculty, especially nontenured professors, to expand and promote scholarly and research activities.

He is the author of the book “Arbitration and the Constitution” and co-author of “International Civil Litigation in United States Courts.” His works have been published by Yale University Press, Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, and his articles have appeared in a diverse array of journals, including The University of Chicago Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review and the Journal of International Arbitration.

Rutledge earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude, and a master’s degree in applied ethics from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago, where he graduated with high honors, served as executive editor of The University of Chicago Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.

Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at UGA, will soon launch a search for the law school’s next dean.

“The UGA School of Law has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation’s best, and its growing stature is a testament to Bo’s leadership and expertise,” said Hu. “We are grateful for his years of service, and I look forward to his continued contributions to our students as a member of the law school’s outstanding faculty.”